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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 3:

Abiding by the Supreme Court directive, the Odisha government today asked the District Collectors to shift the liquor shops within 500 meters on either side of the National Highways and State Highways by March 31.

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“As per the directive of the Supreme Court, the District Collectors across 30 districts have been asked to shift the liquor shops falling within 500 meters from the National Highway and State Highway. The location of around 1700 liquor shops will have to be shifted across the state for which fresh notices will be served to the owners. The issues pertaining to this was discussed today,” Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi said here today.

Notably, as many as 1712 liquor outlets have been identified along the restricted zones.

On December last year, the apex court had passed an order directing the state governments to enforce ban on sale of liquor within 500 meters from the highways. A bench headed by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur had said that all liquor vendors holding licenses for selling liquor would continue to do so till their licenses were valid or till March 31, 2017, whichever was earlier. The licenses would not be renewed.

The state government today said that the outlets would be shut from April 1 who would fail to comply with the directive.

A couple of days after the court order, state Excise Minister Dr Damodar Rout had expressed his helplessness to shut the liquor shops saying “It is impossible to move liquor shops 500 meters away from the highways.”

The BJD veteran had termed the total prohibition in the state as “impractical” after neighbouring Bihar enforced a total ban on liquor sales.